Taking Writing Risks #IWSG


I never thought of myself as a risk-taker. A writing rebel. But, thinking on it, I guess I am.

I’ve mentioned numerous times (as recently as last month’s IWSG post) that I write what I want regardless of whether it’s popular, fits into any known genre, or is marketable. That, in itself, is risky. Also, the form, subject matter, tone, and style make my writing a pretty tailored taste.

I’m currently finishing my MS that’s not-novel, not-short-story, not-novella. And I break the rules of how it’s supposed to be written.

Also, I just posted about the possible downfalls of changing the covers of my books, wondering whether or not I should do it. Yup, I am. And they’re going to be what I like, not what they “should” be.

Oh, and, as you all know, I’m a pantser. ‘Nuff said.

So, um, yeah, I’m a risk-taking writer.


Wow. After writing this post, I realized I take risks in just about every area of the writing process. Yikes. 

Do you take risks in your writing?   



IWSG Question of the Month April Prompt – Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work? IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)


Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 







68 thoughts on “Taking Writing Risks #IWSG

  1. Absolutely! Where would the fun be in writing otherwise 😂😂 however there are consequences… plus, I always feel sick when I press that publish button when I wonder what readers are going to make of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you, Sarah. You are a risk taker. I think I’m a bit of a risk taker too – but only in some things. In others, I’m quietly conservative. I’m allowed to be both. I’m a Gemini.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah, great post. My wife and I are watching the excellent documentary series on Ernest Hemingway on PBS. While his novels get the notoriety, many writers comment on his short stories as his best work. He took those risks you speak of. In one of his early compilations of short stories in the early 1920s, he wrote a story about date rape. Even Gertrude Stein told him not to print that one as it would shock folks, but he did anyway. One woman writer later claims it as one her favorite pieces as he went where others would not. So, to your point, it is more than OK to take a chance and use your voice. Keith


      • Sarah, I will need to look that one up. Check out the mini-series. It is three episodes in length and produced and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The gist is Hemingway the man is more interesting than Hemingway the myth, which ironically he was a cause of the myths. Keith


  4. I wouldn’t say I’m a risk taker. Weird? Definitely. I write out of sequence then fill in the blanks. I rarely know my ending. I’ll go days without writing, then feel loads of guilt. But you have me all kinds of intrigued about your new MS!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Boring, old, non-risk-taking writer, eh? 😉 So that’s interesting. You write out of sequence and fill in the holes of your story? I mean, you aren’t a pantser but you skip bits in your outline or whatever it is planners do? Actually, I have no idea what I’m talking about here. What’s the writing out of sequence thing?

      Please, skip the guilt. Ugh. No writing-related guilt is allowed on this blog. Stop it! No chocolate for you!

      Ooh. Thank you. 💜 Between you and me (and everyone else who sees this), I’m hoping for two (very different) books to come out this year. I’m so happy you’re intrigued. In keeping with this risk-taking post, it really is truly my own thing. I don’t know if it will have much of an audience and I’ve no idea how to market it but, damn, it was fun to write.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, also, my WP switched. I’m going with the Teri-jinxed-me excuse since we chatted about it on your blog and mine hadn’t switched yet. Needless to say, if you look at the post, it’s pretty messed up. I can’t get the spacing to play nice. Have you figure it out?

      ETA: I seem to have done something to get it out of the one-long-paragraph state but I don’t know how I did it so…helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not at all surprised to find you are a risk taker, Sarah! Somehow, I suspected this all along. 😃 But honestly, if we don’t take risks now and then, wouldn’t life get terribly boring? We’d all be doing pretty much the same thing everyone else is. Tried and true is fine for some stuff, sure, but is it the best way to approach creativity?

    While I don’t think my books are especially daring, they sure are hard to categorize, and that does make them hard for my target audience to find. But I confess that like you, I don’t want to write the same story everyone else is writing, so I don’t even think about what’s popular or what’s selling. I just let my characters tell me what’s happening and write it all down for them. I do mostly stick to full-length novels, but they are a bit on the long side, because I’m a wordy soul and don’t like recommended lengths for certain genres. Especially when my books are mostly cross-genre. I don’t know if that qualifies as risk-taking as much as just being new to writing and wanting to tell the whole story more than I want to follow anyone’s rules.

    Or maybe it’s the same thing. 😀

    Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with in your new MS. Any idea on when it will be published? AND, I’m glad you are going with covers that make YOU happy. (Would be happy to share the reveals on The Write Stuff when you have them ready, as well as sharing the release of your new one.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re not surprised? Huh. Shows how much I know. 😉 But, a “hell yes!” to the risk-taking/creativity connection. Right? Without risk and uncertainty can there be creativity? Not much, to be sure.

      I think you’re a bit of a risk-taker. I mean, like you say, you don’t think of what’s popular or marketable or what neatly fits into a genre. Not following rules is a good way to unleash that aforementioned creativity which is working very well for you, lovely lady.

      Ah, thank you! I’m working on a few things at the moment (what’s new?). But the MS I mentioned here is something I’ve had on the proverbial back burner for many years. I took it off and turned the burner on. It’s bubbling and looking delicious. But it is pretty weird. Not likely to be popular but something I would definitely pick up to read.

      As for covers, yeah, I’ve decided to go with my gut. Something, again, that may not be “right” or popular but appeals to me and I would grab it off the shelf in a heartbeat. (Thank you for the offer to share! That would be awesome, Marcia.) 💖 Hugs, pictures of Thor, and sturdy bridges to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Does the verb ‘to streak ‘ resonate across the pond? Here it means to run naked in public especially at major sporting or cultural events. It became such an epidemic here in the 80s and 90s that it has been criminalised at sports events.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It does. If you’re pantsing, you are writing sans pants, so… 😉 (I’m fairly certain it’s illegal whether said person is streaking at a sporting event or not. If it’s a public place, it’s illegal. Or not…maybe they just get a fine or something. I wouldn’t know.)


  6. I love taking risks but more than that just exploring the different sides of me. But I always please myself when it comes to my writing. NEVER think of the audience and what people want because I’m not that type of writer. As for risks…I’m still expecting some hate mail some time during my career so we’ll see what risk offers that payoff lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Taking risks is, well, risky, but you are so right that we can more easily explore when we take risks. We can explore different genres, styles, and sides of ourselves as writers. I’m with you. I don’t write what’s popular, what’s marketable, or what people want. I write what I want. That could be risky writing or writing suicide. Who’s to say? 😉

      As a life-long writer, writing student, and writing teacher, I have always been aware that writers need to think of their audience. I mean, it’s one of the Golden Rules. That said, I’ve been lured by the siren song of passionate prose and strayed from the path of righteousness.

      ETA: Hey, J.D. Took me a second to recognize you incognito. But, hell yeah, you’re a risk-taker. 😈


  7. I take some calculated risks. The big one is my desire to play with all the tools, so I sometimes wind up with things like second person POV and others. I coined the phrase noveloids for some of the odd length ones I produce.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, it’s tough to resist playing with all that language has to offer writers. 🙂 You do a great job with your experimenting so it’s all good. (There are so many terms now for lengths of works. It used to be simple. I do like the term “noveloid”, though. Odd-length works? I have a few of those.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Heh, I would say I’m risk adverse with my writing. I’d rather not publish than risk hurting people with what I write. But in other areas, I say pfft! to risk. I’ll put in that prologue, write sprawling epics, and order my chapters however I darn well please, thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As far as possibly hurting people with content, I’m the same. I’m not that brave with controversial topics. But that’s not really my interest, anyway. Yes, you with your sprawling epics and me with my sparse micros… We’re quite a pair. Of what, I don’t know. To hell with the rules regarding prologues, chapter order and titles, adverbs, and all that jazz. I’m with you on that.


  9. Here’s a great quote about risk: “There’s as much risk in doing nothing as in doing something.”
    –Trammell Crow

    p. 93 of the book It’s a Jungle Out There. Available on Amazon (of course!): http://bit.ly/GorillaBizQuotes

    Another favorite: “Life is either daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller

    Finally, Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

    Okay, I’m done quoting. 🙂

    There is nothing wrong with being your authentic self. That’s what writing is all about. Just don’t lie or try to be something your not.

    BTW, your writing is awesome and you should be proud to have created your work and put it out there for the world to look upon.

    Writing is a tough profession, but you’re tougher than you know. Really!

    Take care. And try not to judge yourself harshly.

    Okay, I’m done. I hope that helps! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the Trammel Crow quote. (All of them are great but I hadn’t seen the Crow one and it’s perfect. For this and for life.)

      Thank you so much. 💖 I do write for myself but it’s always nice to hear people like your writing. And, as for being my authentic self, that’s what this is. My blog is 100% me sitting at a bar chatting with friends. My fiction is 100% me sitting at a computer chatting with characters. (Huh. That’s the start of a blog post right there.) 🙂 And, yes, your comment does help. Thank you!


  10. Hi Sarah, I just caught up with you on your post regarding your covers. If you have a reason to change them — and correcting a look from what you thought it should be to how you want it to be — then do it. It’s valid. You own them, you rebel. I think writing is inherently a risk, to begin with so, yeah, you’re a risk-taker. It’s still a good idea to research your market and define your target reader despite fitting into any neat categories. That makes you a calculated risk taker. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Correcting a look. That’s it. I didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted when I first did this.

      Ugh. You’re right. I should research more and try to find something that’s marketable. I’d kind of given up on that and decided to do what I like…a bad attitude, I know. Not sure that’s a great plan. I’ll try to be more of a calculated risk-taker instead of a hell-with-it-all risk-taker. 😉


  11. I never thought of writing my own thing regardless of market as being a risk. I guess I do it so much that I take it for granted! I kind of do the same with the illustrations I create for my books’ covers. Although I do keep in mind some market expectations in order to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible, I still try to fit my own vision into the illustration. So I guess that makes me a risk taker when it comes to how I package my book as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess it’s not too much of a risk, but disregarding what’s popular and marketable is kind of risky, even if small. It’s good to keep in mind the expectations of your genre/market/readers with cover illustrations but nice that you still hold on to your own vision. A calculated risk-taker. 🙂


    • Ha! Owning my actions. Yeah, I’ve always owned my shit. Everyone’s got it, might as well own it. 😉

      Pantsing is so fun. It doesn’t always yield the results of those who plot, but it’s the only way I can write.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am leaning towards changing my covers, though I do like them, I don’t think they’re targeted at the right audience. I’ve come across a few new book designers that I want to check and see their take on the books. Have you made a decision, Sarah?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Which books are you considering changing? (They all look nice, tbh.) Which audience are they supposed to be targeting as opposed to which one they are targeting now? That’s one of the reasons for my decision. Which is to say, yes, I’ve decided to do it. 🙂 Other reasons are I want a cleaner, simpler look and the books to have a more similar visual feel.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Sarah 🙂
        Looking to change Book 1 and 2 of my Servant of the Gods trilogy. The target audience is 18+ and feel they may be a little more on the YA side.
        That makes sense, which is what I tried to go for with my series. I look forward to seeing your new covers 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • They do have a bit of a younger vibe to them. I like them, though, and they’re not too YA-ish. Side note: I grabbed Aphrodite’s Curse and am looking forward to it. Glad I was checking out your book covers! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m definitely not a pantser, but I admire those who are. Not being structured is a good thing, I’ve noticed, because sometimes writing travels down its own path and it’s best to see where it leads.

    Now that I think about it, maybe I’m a part-time pantser. That can be a thing, right?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.